Martin Luther King, Jr's pulpitI’ve always been fascinated by the life and ministry of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I just never imagined I would be able stand behind the pulpit where he began his ministry as a 26 year old young man.

Today my dad, Gary and I took the afternoon off from our conference here in Pine Mountain, GA and took a little trip down to Montgomery, AL. Honestly, there is not much in this fine town. In the downtown, most of the store fronts are empty and the place was fairly deserted while we were there. But, despite the presence of current stores and people, the place is filled with the amazing history of the Civil Rights Movement. We all know about Rosa Parks and here famous bus ride that began the 13 month non-violent boycott of the Montgomery Bus System. We all know of Martin Luther King, Jr and his leadership in this movement. That is why it was such a blessing to walk through the Rosa Parks Museum and learn a little more about the setting and details behind this amazing act of courage.

After visiting this museam, we walked over to Dexter Ave King Memorial Baptist Church. This is the church where Dr. King first pastored and it was where he was serving during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. When we arrived at the church the tours were closed for the day. It looked like we missed our opportunity to see the church. But, the doors were open and as we walked in we were greeted by the current Pastor, Rev. Michael F. Thurman. We Rev. Michael F. Thurmanchatted for a few minutes and when he learned that we were pastors we found a quick connection and talked for quite some time about life and ministry. Even though the tours were closed for the day he took us up to the sanctuary were we talked about MLK Jr. and ministry and life.

In the process we learned that Rev. Thurman was a church planter with the SBC and did his Seminary work at New Orleans Baptist Seminary. Turns out that he knows of a friend of mine named Alberto Rivera who I met randomly two years ago.

Of course, we took the opportunity to stand behind the pulpit where Dr. King stood many years ago as he led the beginnings of a movement that would change the history of our country and the world. It was humbling and inspiring to simply be in the city where this movement was started. It was simply unbelievable to stand in the same place as this great man. As a pastor, and well, as a Christian, I pray that God would use my life and ministry in a mere fraction of the way that he used this great man.

Dexter Ave King Memorial Baptist ChurchThe thing that topped off this visit was the fact that the tours were closed because Rev. Thurman and another volunteer were in the midst of building relationships with and teaching some young children from the inner city how to read and how to use build websites. You see, this church is not merely a historical site, it is a site where God is still very much at work. I think it is interesting that the pastor that was hired for this church has a ton of experience in church planting. This tells me that this church is not only interested in maintenance and what they used to be, but they are passionate about seeing God work in the future as well.

Oh, on the lighter side, at the end of our discussion with Rev. Thurman Gary asked if he had any advice for a couple young church planters. To this question he said, “Keep your hands off the money, stay away from women and stay passionate about ministry.” That seems like some solid advice!

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I’ve always been fascinated about the life and ministry of this great man. I’ve talked for some time about reading more about him but didn’t really know the best books to read first. He suggested a few and I am looking forward to adding them to my reading list.